Why I’m Voting Meretz

Whatever happened to the hope we had for the future? Meretz is the one party that has stayed true to its principles, and a Palestinian state is in Israel’s interest.

There have been a number of heated political discussions around my family’s dinner table in the last few days. “What do you think of Yair Lapid?” my children asked. “What about Tzipi Livni?” they questioned. “Surely, a vote for Labor will strengthen that party and give us a real chance of changing the government,” they argued. “No, your father is voting for Meretz,” my wife said. “Why?” they asked. Why indeed.

I looked at my children, and at my granddaughters, who are too young and innocent to care about politics.  I was suddenly filled with a sense of failure. My generation had failed to deliver peace. I had raised my children in a country constantly threatened by cycles of meaningless violence, Suicide bombings, rocket attacks, wars. Whatever happened to the hope we had for the future?

Today’s government offers no hope. While nodding their acceptance of a two-state solution, our leaders have put the Palestinian problem on the back burner, where it will only serve to boil up and explode in the next round of violence. Our leaders call for a return to the negotiations table, but have no intentions of actually negotiating. They say there should be no preconditions for talks, but they set Israel’s preconditions in stone every day.

The recent war in Gaza should have ended not just with a ceasefire, but with an impetus toward renewing the peace process. It cannot be said that there is no partner for peace; we have been talking on and off over the years with the elected Palestinian leadership and we should have seized the opportunity to get back to negotiations.

Israel should have supported the Palestinians at the UN

As for the vote in the United Nations General Assembly to recognize Palestine with non-member observer status, this was a vote that was long overdue. It should have come alongside the original 1947 vote to partition Palestine, or in parallel to Israel’s declaration of independence. The Palestinians missed their opportunity to establish their state in 1973, and again after Sadat’s historic visit to Israel. But none of this is an excuse for the need to urgently negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict now.

Meretz was the only Zionist party that called on Israel to vote in favor of the Palestinian request to upgrade their status at the United Nations. A Palestinian state is in Israel’s interest. It is morally wrong for Israel to continue to rule over the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank. Talking in a recent televised interview, Mahmoud Abbas stated clearly that his goal was for Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman is not interested in reaching a final status agreement leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The decision to build more housing units in the territories as a punitive measure for the Palestinian diplomatic move will only serve to throw more oil on the fire.

Only Meretz has stayed true to its principles

The parties on the left are led by failed politicians and television stars, more interested in their egos than in uniting in the national interest. Labor has not only been partner to Netanyahu’s right-wing policies, but is also directly responsible for much of the settlement construction.

Only Meretz has stayed true to its principles, no matter how popular or unpopular they may be. Peace with the Palestinians. Human rights. Religious freedom. Protecting the environment.

In answer to the question raised by my children—why am I voting Meretz—I can proudly say that it is the party whose principles are closest to my own. Meretz needs to have a strong presence in the Knesset. I am convinced its members will never waver from their commitment to work toward achieving the party’s goals. Meretz is the one party that gives me hope for a better future.

About the Author
Ellis Shuman made aliya to Jerusalem as a teenager, served in the IDF, was a founding member of a kibbutz, and now lives on Moshav Neve Ilan. Ellis is the author of ‘The Burgas Affair’ – a crime thriller set in Israel and Bulgaria; ‘Valley of Thracians’ - a suspense novel set in Bulgaria; and 'The Virtual Kibbutz' - a collection of short stories. His writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. Ellis lived with his wife for two years in Bulgaria, and blogs regularly about Israel, Bulgaria, books, and writing.